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Showing posts from November, 2018

The Cost of Reform

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Scripture:
2 Kings 23:1-3
Then the king directed that all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem should be gathered to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord, and with him went all the people of Judah, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the prophets, and all the people, both small and great; he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, keeping his commandments, his decrees, and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. All the people joined in the covenant.
Observation:
Josiah was stunned by what he learned from the book of the covenant. The people of God had wandered far from the original relationship they had with God. Josiah has the wherewithal to call the people to reform. This would not be easy and it would be a radical transformation of th…

A Divine-Human Partnership

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Scripture:
Psa. 132:0   A Song of Ascents. 1O LORD, remember in David’s favor all the hardships he endured; 2how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, 3“I will not enter my house or get into my bed; 4I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, 5until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Psa. 132:6   We heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar. 7“Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool.”
Psa. 132:8   Rise up, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. 9Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your faithful shout for joy. 10For your servant David’s sake do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
Psa. 132:11   The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. 12If your sons keep my covenant and my decrees that I shall teach them, their sons also, forevermore, shall sit on your t…

Endurance

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Scripture:
Heb. 10:32  But recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and persecution, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting. 35 Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. 36 For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
Observation:
Following Christ is a life-long journey of endurance. At times it will be filled with struggles, sufferings, exposure to abuse and persecution and joining others in their pain. Compassion is a mark of endurance, and the sharing of our possessions with those in need. There is confidence in this relationship with Christ and we must endure to the end, throug…

Sleepless Nights

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Scripture:
Psa. 16:7   I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 8I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Observation:
One can only imagine that David had plenty of sleepless nights, especially when battling his enemies. Sometimes they were physical enemies and sometimes they were emotional. In the sleepless nights David spent time crying out to God and seeking instruction. It was then that David could face the hard facts of life. Instead of distracting himself, he sought the Lord who brought him counsel.
Application:
There seem to be seasons of life when there are more sleepless nights than others. Difficult decisions and troubling days can leave us awake at night and staring into the darkness. Even anticipation of exciting events can lead us to sleeplessness as we begin to imagine the days which lie ahead. The question is, what we are going to do with those sleepless nights? They can become agonizing, ho…

Sewing the Robe of Discipleship

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Scripture:
1Sam. 2:18   Samuel was ministering before the LORD, a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19 His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
Observation:
Little Samuel was being raised in the presence of Eli’s wicked sons. They were doing things wrong, and stealing food from the sacrifices they were supposed to be making on behalf of the people. In their midst was a precious little boy whose mother was influencing him to do everything right. She brought him a new robe every year so that it would fit properly and he wore the linen ephod, a priestly garment, over the top. This was what he should have been doing and he did it right, when Eli’s sons took short-cuts in everything that they were doing.
Hannah came back year after year to check in her son and give him a new garment. One can imagine that she encouraged him to do the right things and to serve God faithfully. Surely, day after day, whi…

Caring for Needy Relatives

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Scripture:
1Tim. 5:3   Honor widows who are really widows. 4 If a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn their religious duty to their own family and make some repayment to their parents; for this is pleasing in God’s sight. 5 The real widow, left alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day; 6 but the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give these commands as well, so that they may be above reproach. 8 And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Observation:
First of all there are two types of widows contrasted. There is the real widow who recognizes her dependence for her daily needs. At the same time, there is the widow who would like to have her wants fulfilled. This message is for the family who needs to take responsibility for the widow who is in need. She has learned to trust and to depend upon God, but …

Generosity to the Poor: Open Your Hand

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Scripture:
Deuteronomy 15:1-11
Every seventh year you shall grant a remission of debts. And this is the manner of the remission: every creditor shall remit the claim that is held against a neighbor, not exacting it of a neighbor who is a member of the community, because the Lord’s remission has been proclaimed. Of a foreigner you may exact it, but you must remit your claim on whatever any member of your community owes you. There will, however, be no one in need among you, because the Lord is sure to bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a possession to occupy, if only you will obey the Lord your God by diligently observing this entire commandment that I command you today. When the Lord your God has blessed you, as he promised you, you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.
If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord…

Building in Vain

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Scripture:
Psa. 127:0   A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. 1Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. 2It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.
Observation:
This beautiful song of ascent comes from the time of Solomon and probably refers to the incredible temple which he built to God. It is an acknowledgement that the temple, or the house, is entirely dependent upon the LORD. Work can be done, but without God’s leading and direction it may become aimless. Some may say that this psalm speaks against laboring, which is not the case. It has to do with the way in which the labor is completed. We are to rest in the Lord, but we can rest and labor at the same time. The opposite of rest isn’t work, but rather it’s restlessness.
Working when we are frenzied and restless will not result in the finished product of God’s house. That pro…

Choosing To Do Things the Right Way

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Scripture:
Ruth 3:16 She came to her mother-in-law, who said, “How did things go with you, my daughter?” Then she told her all that the man had done for her, 17 saying, “He gave me these six measures of barley, for he said, ‘Do not go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’” 18 She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest, but will settle the matter today.”
Observation:
Boaz could have taken advantage of Ruth but he was a man of virtue. He had chosen to live his life following the laws of God, doing things the right way. He was a humble man, and kept himself pure, intentionally avoiding the temptation of sexual pleasures. Even when he had the opportunity, he didn’t touch Ruth, but his own behavior kept her pure.
He didn’t look down upon her as a poor immigrant, but saw her for the woman of virtue and character that she was and he was overcome. He took the time to hear her speak and immediately understood that she, too, had the sa…